Tuesday 18th December 2018 ko 19.45
Southern League- Premier Division South
HARROW BOROUGH 2 (Kearney 11 87)
BEACONSFIELD TOWN 1 (Morgan 4)
In the great unwritten book of groundhopping tactics, the idea of using 3G pitches as insurance against bad weather is fairly well entrenched. It seems, unfortunately, to have replaced the rule of having a knowledge of well-draining pitches for those times. I was navigating my way around a rain-lashed M25, when I got notification that my intended destination- Sittingbourne, was postponed. It was time to consider my options, and simply going home wasn’t one of them!
One idea was the 3G at Silver Jubilee Park, I allowed myself a rueful grin at that one, Kingsbury Town were the tenants when I last watched a game there and I really do need to re-do there, and both Hendon and Edgware Town have plenty to talk about!
But back in the day I remember visiting Earlsmead on a wet Saturday, to meet a old Uni friend en route to, would you believe a Motörhead gig! I’m not sure what to make of the kind of mind that remembers how well the pitch held up 20-odd years ago, or that the key to the club shop had been lost, whilst battling a deluge on Britain’s busiest motorway at rush hour, but its mine and you are reading this!
It does seem slightly odd to see Harrow Borough in the Southern League, they’d played from 1976 to last season in the Isthmian, but that’s the FA’s take on re-organisation I suppose. The club were formed in 1933 as Roxonian- if Kingston can have Kingstonian why can’t Roxeth use the suffix, even if the hamlet is now completely subsumed into wider Harrow?
And just like Chesham United another former Isthmian League club revisited a few weeks ago, this is a classic non-league ground of London and the home counties, with the quirks to enthuse any visitor. There is a modern main stand, that replaced the older Champniss Stand in 1995 and the tea bar is the kind of place you used to see at Football League grounds, but now these cornucopia of delights are exiled to non league. That is, by the way to non-league’s gain. But Earlsmead’s great attraction is the clever use of space.
I’d been running a little tight for time, so wanted to park as close as close as possible. The car park was full, but then I saw the sign for the overspill car park, and ended up driving behind the main stand, parking up behind the far goal, in front of the school that was built on what used to be Borough’s second pitch. Or putting it another way, the one part of Earlsmead’s footprint that couldn’t be built on is still used.
My immediate need was to stay dry, and in the wind and the rain the back of the new stand proved to be as good a position as any! I wasn’t expecting a classic, but the two clubs did well in the wind and the rain, and the pitch held up far better than could have been reasonably expected.
It would be so easy to paint this visit as a case of visit “Any Ground In A Storm” even if that’s what it started as. The fact of the matter is that Greater London has lost some quite wonderful football grounds, be it Highbury, Southbury Road or the White Lion Ground. There are still some places that still are there for us all to enjoy, Earlsmead is one, and hopefully that’ll stay the case for many years to come.